APM Body of Knowledge version 7

Since the Association for Project Management first published its Body of Knowledge in 1992, frequent updates have reflected new developments in project management thinking and practice. The seventh edition, published in 2019, incorporates several changes which affect the syllabus of the APM Fundamentals (PFQ) and Project Management Qualification (PMQ) examinations that come into effect from the start of 2021.

The most significant difference since version six (2012) has been to recognise that organisations have to deliver change in an increasingly volatile, complex and ambiguous world. New project management approaches are required. Agile principles and techniques have been added alongside the existing linear lifecycle, that the APM now describes as Concept, Definition, Deployment and Transition. The goal is to increase the velocity of relevant business changes being adopted into operational use. Thus delivering business outcomes sooner and resulting in faster benefits realisation.

The Linear (Waterfall), Iterative (Agile) and even Hybrid (of the two) lifecycles are now embedded within the rest of the APM BOK7. All projects, regardless of lifecycle chosen, are planned and resourced appropriately, delivered effectively with active leadership and stakeholder engagement resulting in successful outcomes for the organisation.

As such the roles and responsibilities now include the role of Product Owner – an Agile role responsible for prioritising business value and leading empowered Agile / Scrum teams to deliver the solutions the business needs in a timeboxed and dynamic way.

Increasingly, even before the COVID19 pandemic, project teams are not always co-located but working from remote locations as “virtual teams”. The syllabus looks at the different management needs and the typical challenges leaders face when trying to manage project teams in a virtual environment.

It also develops the role of the Project Management Office (or more accurately P3O – Portfolio, Programme and Project Office) that provides support and assurance services to the three levels of strategic, transformational and step-change within the organisation. The three PMO/P3O design options of embedded (within the change initiative), central (across all areas of change) and hub and spoke (a hybrid of the two) allows for appropriate and cost-effective PMO services to be provided at the point of delivery.

Examination changes

The PFQ and PMQ examinations have not changed in duration or style, although the option to complete the exam on-line is a welcome innovation! The examination language has been tightened in both to make the questions clearer. No longer is there a requirement to complete any calculations, the emphasis is to move away from doing a technique (e.g. earned value management) to its interpretation and use to help manage change in a complex and uncertain world.

Further Reading

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What is the Future of Scrum?

In the project world, the Scrum Agile method is very much alive and sweeps all before it. The fourteenth Annual State of Agile Survey of over 40,000 Agile practitioners published this summer shows 58% used Scrum, with a further 18% using a hybrid of Scrum with either Extreme Programming or Kanban. The top five sectors using Agile (Technology, Financial Services, Professional Services, Government and Insurance) have experienced increased project speed and adaptability, reduced project risk and reported improved business value delivered and customer/user satisfaction. It is also no longer limited to software organizations, with Agile principles and practices increasingly being adopted in Operations, Sales/Marketing and HR functions.

There are still challenges to its adoption, with some organizational cultures at odds with agile values, a lack of leadership support, and inconsistent practices and training given as obstacles to exploiting more of Agile’s opportunities and benefits.

While working in teams, one-to-one can be preferred for Agile methodologies, 81% of those surveyed confirmed that businesses are promoting distributed teams, collaborating across the world regardless of time zones. The current worldwide health crisis may provide additional incentives to move from co-located to distributed teams as the “new normal”.

18th November 2020 sees the launch of the new Scrum Guide, by its creators Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Scrum. Scrum in the Agile world goes from strength to strength.

Of course, Agile projects still need good project governance with appropriately tailored management following APM or PRINCE2 best practice or adopting AgilePM as promoted by the Agile Business Consortium. Start, or continue, your Agile project management journey with Elite’s suite of courses.

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